After Searching provided a fun twist on the thriller genre by telling its story entirely through device screens (laptops, phones, security cameras, etc.), its sequel Missing continues that concept with an all-new mystery.
If you've already seen one of the early new movies of 2023 and have some questions, we're here to help break down the key points of the Missing ending.
SPOILERS for Missing ahead, so if you haven't seen the movie we recommend you rectify that before continuing to read (here are details on how to watch Missing).
Before we get into the details of the Missing ending, let's go over the basics.
What happens in Missing?
Missing follows 18-year-old June Allen (Storm Reid), who lives with her mom, Grace (Nia Long) in Van Nuys, Calif., where they relocated after the death of her dad, James (Tim Griffin). June and Grace's relationship is in a rough spot; June isn't thrilled by her mom's new boyfriend, Kevin (Ken Leung), and is more interested in the party she is going to throw with her friends while her mom and Kevin are on a trip to Colombia.
After a week of partying, June goes to pick her mom up from the airport, but she never arrives. With the help of a family friend, Heather (Amy Landecker), who is also a lawyer, an FBI agent who works for the US embassy in Colombia (Daniel Henney) and a local Colombian who June connects with, Javi (Joaquim de Almeida), June attempts to put the pieces together of what happened to her mom.
Using the internet as her tool, June uncovers deep secrets, including Kevin's criminal background, but also that her mom has been hiding something major about her own past.
What happened to Grace Allen?
June is able to put together that the woman in the pictures Kevin sent from Colombia is not actually her mom, but a hired actress (Lauren B. Mosley); Grace never even got to LAX, being swapped out for the actress sometime during the Uber ride. However, the FBI soon discovers that Grace Allen is not the real name of June's mom, which is news to June.
After hacking into Kevin's gmail account (he uses the same password for just about everything), June discovers a series of encrypted messages going to Heather. When June goes to confront Heather at her office, she finds her dead, with pictures of June and writing saying June will die if Heather talks.
Kevin is eventually caught and killed in Colombia, which leaves the trail for Grace cold. But June tries one more thing, logging in to see footage from a set of security cameras Kevin bought, which shows a house in the middle of nowhere. But Grace recognizes the wallpaper in one of the rooms of the house from a video of her and her dad from when she was young. Before she can think too much about that, a man arrives at her door and reveals himself to be her dad, James. He tries to talk to her and says he can help, but after the shock wears off, June realizes something is not right. James grabs her and throws her in the trunk of his car; it is the same one that picked Grace and Kevin up, meaning James was the driver and in on the scheme from the beginning.
We then get a Missing version of a flashback, where we see what Grace (real name Sarah) did online to try and break away from the abusive relationship she was in with James, who threatened to kill her if she ever tried to take June from him. She eventually is able to get him thrown in jail on drug charges and goes into witness protection. She and a young June move from Texas to Los Angeles.
Back in the present, James brings June to the house with the security cameras and ties her up. He goes to a shed where he has Grace locked up, planning to kill her. But when Grace hears June is there, she bashes James over the head with a piece of wood and makes a dash for the house. She gets to Grace, but James isn't far behind and locks them both in the room.
With no service, June uses a smart watch she has to WhatsApp Javi (the only app that is working) and tries to give him the address of where they are to call the police. However, the battery dies before she can give him the full address. When James comes back, he shoots Grace and eventually gets into a scuffle with a struggling June. As the two fight, Grace is able to grab a shard of a broken mirror and stab James in the neck. As he goes off, eventually dying, June stays with her gravely wounded mother. She remembers her computer still has the security camera footage and audio up and her phone is right there, so she asks Siri to call 911.
It's sometime later and June is watching a true crime show detailing her case (Scream VI's Jasmin Savoy Brown plays the fictional June in this show). Grace, who survived her wounds, messages and talks with June, the two's relationship better than ever.
How is Missing connected to Searching?
The easiest way to know Missing is a sequel to Searching is it uses the same concept of telling its mystery entirely through device screens. The actual story is not directly related to Searching; no characters reappear and even the writing/directing team is different.
However, there is one other connection that Missing choses to make. June watches a true crime docuseries called Unfiction, with the episode she is watching at the beginning based on the Searching case. She has a couple of internet articles on it up on her screen as well.
Bringing it full circle, June and Grace's story also gets turned into an episode of this true crime series.
Missing is now playing in US movie theaters; it releases in the UK on February 24.
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).
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